Globalization: Ours & theirs

A friend writes, à propos my review of Ulrich Beck's book on globalization (also at Newsvine ): "I remain skeptical of globalization, a neo-capitalist plan to push American, British and other corporate countries markets into small countries around the world. With global warming, there may be a counter trend of people taking care of their own needs on a smaller scale as global trade may be come less and less plausible."

Here's my response:

Globalization: Since we can't beat it, we've got to figure out how best to use it. Interconnectivity among people all over the globe is not a neo-capitalist plan, or any kind of plan at all. It's been happening since the first navigators began exploring, or even earlier, and has been happening faster and faster since the steam engine, telegraphy, aviation and now electronic, wireless media. Our problem is that corporations know how to use it more effectively than most of us, but they are vulnerable in several ways that make them subjectable to pressure from citizen groups and even from states. Chiefly, they must sell their products to survive (in competition with other corporations), making them vulnerable to consumer boycotts and receptive to any "good" publicity that gives them an edge over the competition (My friend Charlie Kernaghan's National Labor Committee exploits this vulnerability brilliantly). Secondly, corporations can pressure governments by threatening not to invest, but they MUST invest somewhere, so states and combinations of states (Hugo Chávez's ALBA, for example) can severely limit their activity. And there are other vulnerabilities (the precariousness of CEO's positions, for example) that smart trade unions (Reuther was a genius) have been able to use.

Beck points out that the "anti-globalizers" are themselves enthusiastic globalists, organizing NGOs world-wide. Focusing on smaller scale, local needs while taking into account the the global is exactly what he advocates : "glocalization" is the ugly word for it, "cosmopolitanism" is (to my ear) much better. He uses both words, but emphasizes cosmopolitanism, which, he reminds me, is an ancient Greek concept: loyalty to and concern for the "polis", the local city-state, AND for the "cosmos", i.e., everything. Global organizations he mentions for praise most often include Amnestiy International and Greenpeace.

1 comment:

Veriz said...

I do not approve either globalizers nor anti-globalizers, in particular, anti-globalizers... who fail to look at the world in an aggregate way. Instead, they base their beliefs on anecdotal evidence. They find a worker in a factory who has been badly treated and blame this on globalization.